Nidrâ Yoga is an oral tradition that is part of the vast body of centuries-old yoga that has survived to this day. It has been taught from Gurus (instructors) to Sishyas (students) primarily through personal relationship and direct experience. It mainly concerns the study of very deep states of Sithilikarana (relaxation) related to very high degrees of Dharana (concentration).
Among the many levels of very deep relaxation, there is one called Maha sithilikarana, that is, the Great Relaxation, or in other words “death”.
Before addressing this area in more detail, we must take into account some other concepts related to this culture of Nidrâ and its particular view of life itself, taken and understood as a whole. Thus, it is said that life is an eternal process with no beginning, no end, and no particular goal to attain. It is a unique movement, but also very complex, whose creativity and expansion are constantly at work.
Within this immense eternal movement, objects of situations and beings appear, transform and disappear. And what we call birth, evolution and death must be regarded as natural expressions of this very life, nothing more, and nothing less.
Another fundamental point to integrate is the essential difference between an event and a process. For example, the Nidrâ tradition insists on radically differentiating the death-event that occurs only once (from the point of view of those who are alive) from the death-process, which is a dynamic natural force intrinsic to life and which is perpetuated constantly.
What we call death is an event happening to others only once. What we call the death-process is what happens to each of us constantly, this movement which continually implies losing what we considered definitively acquired.
We might ask ourselves whether the death-event is a radical end or a great change to another state that is unknown to us. No one has ever given a precise answer on this subject, even though a large number of religions have given a personal point of view. What is certain is that these same religions have used their point of view to impose many beliefs and other conventional behaviors on their flock, without really giving a clear answer outside the closed circle of their members, who precisely do without sustained or deep questioning on this subject.
The only real questions we could start looking for are essentially: What does it really mean to finish? Does a process exist that brings one thing or another or someone to a final state? Does there really exist a definitive and radical end to anything?
Attempting to look deeply into reality as it is requires a great open-mindedness as well as a burning desire to understand. But it also requires developing an ability to fully accommodate potential new and unpredictable answers than before. Now, if we consider the routine of our daily life, it is clear that everything that comes to an end in our life does not happen by chance and without reason, but precisely because of several causes associated with each other. What arises is the consequence of several factors which we were not necessarily aware of before, and which by organizing themselves have slowly led to the end or the definitive loss of one thing or another. Seen this way, we could affirm that death, in turn, is an event for which a certain number of causes have insidiously prepared its brutal appearance. On the other hand, we have all found that whatever the situation, when something ends, there is always something new that appears sooner or later, and it is often very difficult to see or accurately assess the link that associates them. Nidrâ Yoga is a concrete exploration of the link between two distinct situations in our lives, but it is also a tool to check if there really is something in life in general that we can call radically final or finite. On the superficial plane of appearances, obviously the material objects have an end in themselves when they cease to exist. A broken vase is no longer a vase, a body without breath is no longer a living body. That said, can we limit the definition of a living being to the exclusive existence of his body? What are we really, who are we? Nidrâ Yoga offers an answer to this immense question of the reality of life. It asserts that what we are is the very movement of life, that there is no such thing as a definite identity that could claim any particularity that would define it. That in the very depth of being and in each of us, we are nothing but an expression of this very life, of this movement without beginning or end, this dynamic of eternity. In other words, the idea that something can come to an end is a myth, that nothing ever reaches its finitude, but that everything, at every moment, is traversed by a state of transformation without beginning or end.
When this is felt and lived with clarity, there is no more room for doubt or the fear of dying. Because the real question with regards to death is not the fact of death in itself. The question is: can we face death without doubt, without fear? Can we as human beings consider the beauty of this great mystery of death without trying to give it any meaning or meaning that would credit life itself? Could we live our daily routines with the feeling that this death is like a very close and intimate friend with whom we have to inevitably meet? And thus cease trying to expel this unstoppable truth from our lives. Because another reality of death is the fact that we know for sure that it will happen. What we do not know is when it will happen. In reality, apart from death, we cannot be sure of anything, neither of the succession of events forming the fabric of our lives, nor even if any event will take place or not. Only death is guaranteed to happen, and it’s a 100% guarantee.
Nidrâ teaches a position in the face of death as an unavoidable reality, while realizing that change is a fundamental law of life and that it is much more natural and truthful to live with the consciousness of death, rather than to ignore it or reject this reality. In a very practical way, Nidrâ Yoga has developed a whole set of exercises to deeply investigate the mystery of the unknown, that is, death, and the deathing process. It requires to venture deeply into the path of infinite relaxation, far beyond the simple relaxation of the body, but also and especially within a mental relaxation in order to evacuate the fears contained therein. It seems that many of our fears are mainly resurgences of memory, embedded in the folds of our beliefs or misunderstandings that have been forged in past events. The idea of death belongs to these beliefs, and is only one belief among many others. But it can condition the entirety of our daily lives and poison our lives consciously or unconsciously.
To overcome the fear of death does not mean that death itself is nonexistent. It simply means that the reality of death may well be different from the beliefs or personal points of view produced by the memory.
Going deeply into relaxation leads to a state of complete surrendering, a state where one can contemplate the infinitesimal perpetual movement of life in its intimate nature. Within this movement, sometimes, the clear observation of the beginning, the transformation and the end of any event entails at times the perception of an even deeper reality. Life is a dynamic force that cannot be understood by the capacities of our limited thought. To accept this, this fact as such, without any logical or illogical reference, constitutes in itself the end of all death.
The end of death is not a magic trick for naive minds. It is the only reality that brings out a state of being that is silence, vastness and pure happiness. To live such a state is a most wonderful gift which we would never have guessed that death could offer us!